SAN PEDRO SULA, Honduras -- The secretary of state of Honduras in the Office of Tourism, Nelly Jerez Caballero, and the executive secretary for integral development of the Organization of American States (OAS), Sherry Tross, on Friday closed in San Pedro Sula, Honduras, the XXI Inter-American Congress of Ministers and High Authorities of Tourism, the main theme of which was "Geotourism to Benefit the Communities".
Ministers and senior officials in charge of tourism from 22 OAS member countries were in attendance in Honduras, as well as representatives of the private sector, academia, civil society and high-level experts, who emphasized the need for further cooperation and public-private partnerships to advance this issue in the region.
Attendees had the opportunity to participate in a fluid dialogue on various issues such as geotourism, public safety and community within the framework of sustainable tourism, and sustainable management, all of them with a view to developing specific programs for the benefit of local communities.
The high-level tourism authorities adopted the Declaration of San Pedro Sula on geotourism in the Americas, which describes "geotourism" as tourism that sustains or enhances the geographical character of a place, its environment , culture, aesthetics and heritage , as well as promoting the welfare of its residents and visitors.
Within the Congress, the Federation of Chambers of Tourism of Central America (FEDECATUR) and the Tourism Business Council of South America (CETUR) signed a cooperation agreement, which was also signed by Jerez Caballlero as witness of honour. This agreement seeks to be the first step for business tourism integration in the Americas.
Jerez said in her closing statement, "Geotourism has proven to be a tool to consolidate sustainability, community inclusion, to promote the identity of peoples and contribute to their development."
Meanwhile, Tross said, "There is a growing recognition that tourism is an important driver of economic activity in our countries, one that creates jobs and income and boosts other productive sectors such as agriculture, telecommunications, transportation and infrastructure."
The government of Barbados has offered to host the XXII Inter-American Congress of Ministers and High Authorities of Tourism, to be held in 2014. Peru and Guyana have offered to host the XXIII and XXIV Inter-American Congress of Ministers and High Authorities of Tourism in 2015 and 2016, respectively.